A black bear that had become accustomed to being around people and eating human related foods, such as bird seed and garbage, was euthanized by biologists on August 23.
The 10- to 12-year-old female bear had been trapped the previous day after it had shown a total loss of fear of people and had made numerous appearances at cabins in the Mack’s Inn area of Island Park.
The bear began its downward spiral when it was trapped by Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks in a campground in the Big Hole area of Montana. It was released in the Northern Centennial Mountains in Montana and worked its way over to Island Park. Numerous reports of the bear amongst human dwellings came in throughout July and August.
On August 13, the bear was positively placed in the Mack’s Inn neighborhood and paid subsequent visits to unprotect trash in the North Fork Subdivision area. On August 22, the bear appeared to become even less afraid of humans and was reported going through bird feeders and getting onto cabin decks in the area.
When bear biologists encountered the animal, it climbed a pine tree. The biologists placed three snares at the base of the tree. When they moved away, the bear climbed down and was caught in one of the snares.
The biologists then tranquilized the bear and placed it in a culvert trailer trap for security and transport. Because the bear was sporting numbered ear tags, biologists were able to establish its history in Montana.
The bear’s current behavior, coupled with its past relocation, meant that few options existed for the bear in the wild. Because it had shown no fear of humans, biologists could not guarantee human safety if the bear were released.
It is clear that repeated exposure to human related food was the reason this bear had to be put to death. Bear management agencies have an ongoing education program in the Island Park area, but it is ultimately the responsibility of individuals in the area to help prevent problems.
To learn more about living with bears visit www.igbconline.org.
In an attempt to salvage some benefit from this situation, the hide from this bear will be used as part of a bear education trailer that is being developed to educate the public about living and recreating safely in bear country.